HARRISBURG — Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, has released his health records as he maneuvers to keep questions about Democratic challenger John Fetterman’s recovery from a stroke front and center in the hotly contested campaign.
Dr. Rebecca Kurth in New York City wrote in a four-page letter obtained by The Associated Press that she found the 62-year-old heart surgeon turned TV celebrity to be in “excellent health” at an annual checkup Thursday.
The letter noted that Oz has a total cholesterol that is “marginally elevated” but unchanged and said a hyperplastic lesion – cell growths that could become cancerous – was removed from his colon in 2011. An electrocardiogram – a test that records electrical signals on the heart to detect heart problems — had Thursday come back normal.
“Your exam is healthy and blood work is favorable,” Kurth wrote. He did not prescribe medication.
The release of the health records comes as Oz tries to close a gap in the polls and increasingly makes Fetterman’s fitness a central issue in his campaign.
Fetterman, 53, has been silent on releasing medical records or giving reporters access to question his doctors, now more than four months after suffering a stroke in May that had lingering effects on his speech and hearing.
Fetterman’s campaign did not immediately comment Friday.
The presidential battleground race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey could help determine control of the closely divided Senate, and Democrats see it as perhaps their best chance to pick up a seat in a handful of close races nationwide. .
While it is common for presidential candidates to release health records, there is no such custom in US Senate races. Some US senators have, in the past, released medical records when they were running for president.
In a statement, Oz said he was releasing his medical records for the sake of transparency and that “voters should be fully transparent about the health status of candidates running for office.”
Oz, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, also questioned Fetterman’s honesty in disclosing the lingering effects of his stroke.
Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor, maintains that doctors expect him to make a full recovery from the stroke and that he is improving rapidly, cognitively intact and maintaining the healthiest habits of his life.
Fetterman suffered the stroke on May 13, four days before he easily won his Democratic primary. His victory came just hours after he underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator. Three weeks after the stroke, Fetterman revealed that he had “almost died” and released a statement from his cardiologist revealing that he had a serious and potentially fatal heart condition.
Fetterman has campaigned and spoken at public events, but he avoids reporters, slurs at times, slurs an occasional word and struggles to hear through background noise and process what he hears quickly. He recently agreed to a debate against Oz, to be held on October 25, although Oz had been pushing for more.
Publicly, top Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have tried to calm party nerves about Fetterman’s condition, saying they have spoken with him and are confident he is fit to serve.
Still, Fetterman has given reporters limited access to question him directly, doing only a few interviews after the stroke, all via closed-captioned video to help him with audio editing.
In a 2016 Senate race in Illinois, Democrat Tammy Duckworth released years of medical records amid questions about the fitness of Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, who suffered a stroke in 2012.
Kirk was still suffering from the effects of the stroke four years later and, like Fetterman, did not provide access to his doctors or medical records. However, Duckworth said during an interview that she believed Kirk was capable of doing the job, but “the problem is he doesn’t.”
Late in the race, Kirk’s campaign released a one-page letter from a treating physician saying the senator had made a “full cognitive recovery” while still talking non-stop, dealing with limited use of his left leg and inability to use his left arm. , the Chicago Tribune reported at the time.
Kirk ended up losing his bid for re-election.
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